USA’s football melodrama Necessary Roughness will tackle the outing of a gay player in its season finale. When the longtime boyfriend of Rex Evans (Travis Smith), the star quarterback of the fictional New York Hawks, threatens to leave him, Evans decides to come out to his team and the public.
This is a particularly topical premise given the back and forth of players voicing their support, opposition and confusion leading up to the Super Bowl. And although attitudes in the NFL are changing, recent comments by Chris Culliver suggest that there’s still much room for further change.
“I think the thing is with Chris is, he’s probably never been around someone who’s gay or had the chance to interact with someone who’s gay,” Minnesota Vikings punter and noted librarian told BuzzFeed. “That’s more a part of your upbringing. Once you become educated, and you’re like, they’re people like everyone else, what’s the big deal, why do I even care about this?”
“He could have been stating a feeling that he believes he should be stating,” added Donna Dannenfelser, the show’s co-executive producer and basis for lead character, therapist Dr. Dani Santino.
Since “coming out” as a vocal gay rights and gay marriage advocate, Kluwe was asked if he is experiencing what an openly gay player might in the locker room.
“I don’t know that I am, actually. Just because everyone that knows me or talks to me knows I give zero fucks about what anyone thinks,” he said with trademark tact. “I pretty much don’t care. About the only difference in my life is that I’ve been on more TV shows and radio interviews. But that’s about the only significant change.”
Dannenfelser thinks that that’s the winning attitude the first out NFL player would have to adopt: a zero “no fucks” policy.
“Listen, it’s going to take a strong man. Whether it’s someone who says, ‘I don’t care what people think,’ he’s going to have to get to a place where he doesn’t care what people think. The reason they’re still in the closet is because they do care,” Dannenfelser said. “It is going to take a personality who says, ‘I don’t care anymore.'”